The NGOs in Romania have started to grow in the last 10 years, and the services market intended for this segment has started to manifest itself in a way that is not negligible. In this regard, it is essential to consider communicating with specific audiences with … tricky issues, to which one rarely finds blunt information, as described below.
In Romania, sponsorship is a kind of fifth wheel, sending some people to the street to get more or less veiled answers such as “we need to offer sponsorship as badly as a hole in the head”. This happens for many possible reasons.
1. Poor choice of time of year. The prominent sponsoring companies set their list of organizations to sponsor at the beginning of the year, by March at the latest. During this period, employees also can direct the 2% of their salary funds that their employing companies are transferring into the state account to certain NGOs. Still, each time the rate of running these incomes to organizations is under 20% because of the poor marketing and public relations approach of the non-profit organizations.
2. Poor choice of the time of the week. It is important to remember that 28% of Romanians sleep during work (primarily if they work in public administration). Money should not be demanded on Mondays and on Fridays. On Mondays, people have barely returned from the weekend and are pressed by the dead cats thrown by some into their yards last week. On Fridays, everybody’s in a hurry to start their weekend.
3. Poor choice of time during the day. In the morning, until 10 o’clock, people just get to work. In the summertime, this time can be extended until 11 o’clock. Lunch is between 12.00 – 14.00 PM, and after 15.00 PM, people are already preparing to go home. It is best to make a phone call and set up a meeting with the person in charge of granting the sponsorship. An error margin of +/- half-hour is calculated.
4. Poor interpersonal skills (networking and personal branding techniques) of those seeking sponsorship. A teenager with pimples wearing blue jeans and picking his teeth with his business partner’s business card has little chance of getting sponsors, no matter the cause.
5. Preference for specific causes better rated than others, such as orphans or disabled children. After all, no public relations apparatus would promote “we, company X, have given money for this noble cause”; most of those who sign such sponsoring decisions from companies aim to be on good terms with the management.
6. Sponsorship application, baldly written, deprived of a strategy or inspiration, spelling common sense, let alone copywriting.
7. Attitude approach, that of a beggar praying for some funds, because, well, in Romania, it is normal for NGOs to be poor, instead of the selling attitude in the case of promotional spaces and a corporate social responsibility concept-oriented approach. The mistake often starts with the NGO manager and the person requesting funds.
8. Human resources, which are too few to find sponsorship. Applying the psychology of the Romanian people in organizational management resembles the theory of chaos or a low-efficiency engine. The basic principle is that you’re planning on counting on 50 people; you hope to count on 40. Instead, you only have 30, of which 20 are available when you need them. Out of these, 10 find sponsorships, at best. Out of these, 5 find sponsorships that are transferred into the organization’s account promptly. These are usually the lowest.
9. Sponsorships are requested late, so organizers must lean backward to do something with the funds/assets received as sponsorship. But, again, this increases the private sector’s distrust of the sponsorship offer.
10. The sponsorship request is simply not correctly addressed, as if the company were a mysterious entity, some spellbound spirit or magic tree to which people go in the hope of a large crop. It must be clear that the person who makes the sponsorship decision is the one to be approached. Any sponsorship letter must be personalized to this person to strengthen their position in the organization. The employee who takes over the sponsorship request must be” sold” the idea that he will look good before his boss if he deals with this sponsorship. If the manager is also the business owner, he must be convinced even faster that this investment will bring him ROI (return on investment) in figures. This means that, in time, the NGO must prepare a financial assessment of the evolution of the benefits it offers to companies that have granted sponsorships.
11. Approaching the wrong companies. Small firms are often the ones that can offer more than large firms, contrary to expectations. This is also since the better marketing position the company has and the stronger it is, the more precious the time of the employees is, and they prefer to grant higher sponsorships a few times a year, the need for advertising decreases, the preferences in the marketing strategy are more demanding, as is the evaluation of those who come to ask for sponsorship.
12. The NGO representatives who go to companies to find sponsors often do not benefit from proper training on how to ask for money and represent the organization. Therefore, the results are not among the brightest in either of these aspects…
Copyright © Marcus Victor Grant 2006-present. Translation by Cristiana Brezeanu of the article “Ce să eviţi când cauţi sponsorizări “, which was previously published in Romanian on May 8th, 2011, on Discerne. Copyright © Marcus Victor Grant, all rights reserved.
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